The Mark Twain Hotel was built in 1930 as a single-room occupancy (SRO) residential hotel, and it continues to function as one today. In fact, its SRO identity is one of the key reasons this restoration came to fruition. The NHP Foundation (NHPF) was one of the first developers to utilize Chicago’s SRO and Residential Hotel Preservation Ordinance of 2014. The ordinance was put in place by the city in an effort to encourage developers to restore affordable housing properties and maintain the affordable housing programming. Other contributing factors of this project’s success include low-income housing tax credits and federal historic tax credits (the property was listed on the National Register in 2017). MHA Chicago consulted on the federal historic tax credits utilized for the building’s rehabilitation.
As a mixed-use property with 148 income-restricted studio apartments and seven ground-floor retail stores, the restored property addresses the need for diversity in housing opportunities in one of Chicago’s most highly sought-after areas. The property specifically aims to serve individuals on the verge of homelessness. The building’s seven ground-floor retail stores also offer more diversity in food and beverage options in an area that had previously been known as a “food desert” in terms of affordable food and beverage options.
The Mark Twain Hotel, located in the Near North Side community of Chicago at the intersection of Division and Clark streets, was originally designed by Chicago architect Harry Glube and was completed in 1930. The Art Deco property is a classic example of a residential rooming hotel, a type of residential hotel built in Chicago between 1880 and 1930 created to house the city’s large influx of skilled, but low paid white- and blue-collar workers.
With the help of MHA Chicago, NHPF restored the five-story masonry residential hotel. Great care was given to the retention of the building’s commercial first floor, U-shaped plan, central lightwell, residential community spaces, and interior and exterior historic finishes. The buff-colored brick, architectural terra cotta, and limestone sills were repaired, repointed, and cleaned. On the interior, historic finishes were retained and repaired, including the terrazzo flooring, plaster walls and decorative details, and arched doorways. A new roof and roof terrace were also installed.
The 148 new single-room occupancy units feature in-unit kitchens, energy efficient MEP and HVAC systems, and community spaces for residents. Residents can take advantage of the building’s financial literacy services, health and wellness programming, and tax and healthcare assistance. Additional amenities include on-site staff, a rooftop deck, an on-site laundry facility, and elevator service to all floors.
Located at the intersection of the Gold Coast and Old Town, two historic and highly sought-after Chicago neighborhoods, residents have close access to groceries, public transportation, restaurants, commercial shops, city parks, and Lake Michigan. The building itself sits directly above CTA’s renovated Clark and Division Red Line station and opposite from a newly-built (completed in 2017), 35-story luxury apartment building (The Sinclair) that has a 58,000-square-foot grocery store (Jewel Osco’s flagship store) at its base.
- AIA Chicago | 2020 Design Excellence Award - Distinguished Building Award
- Landmarks Illinois | 2020 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Rehabilitation
- Multi-Housing News | 2020 Excellence Awards - Gold for Best Green Initiative & Silver for Best Transaction
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